GDNS official, canonical theory!!

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  • Paul, no prob. Have you ever started sweating at a board game? VE without T is like that.
  • edited June 2016
    Maybe this is a good way to think of GDNS official, canonical theory: as toolboxes for people with very clashing ideals. That look at each other's toolbox and say: "Mmm, that's a tasty-looking spanner you have there but what's that gross hammer doing in there? You can't roleplay for real with such a thing around!" And some of these toolboxes map to one corner, and others of these toolboxes map to an overlap in the official poster for the GDNS kumbaya of FRIENDSHIP.
    If the contents of those toolboxes were defined, I think that would be a pretty awesome way to look at things. "Roleplaying to Roleplay could use some techniques from Running a Simulation" doesn't get me anywhere currently, but if I got to then go look in a "Simulation Techniques" box, then it would become super handy.

    Your point about toolboxes also existing in overlaps strikes me as complicated and inconvenient on the technique-listing front, but also true.

    I wonder if the clashes and overlaps you're seeing could help generate a starter list of techniques just for reference? If you put that in place, maybe the rest of us could help expand the lists.

    I'm not sure how to parse the four points as defined by clash, as I see plenty of room for clash pretty near any given point. Like, yeah, I agree that some "Run a Sim" techniques are perfect for Transportation, but others will completely ruin it (e.g. in the case of a simulation based on slow-handling quantification). But perhaps such incompatibilities would be obvious enough to anyone who looked, and that wouldn't detract from the upside of having a toolbox to look in for suitable techniques.
  • edited June 2016
    I like that take on the way different playstyles and tools may or may not overlap. (Although I have to be honest: I find your terms completely opaque. I read your last post with ZERO idea of what's what - I think I'd have to read your posts with the diagram printed out in front of me to follow at all.)
    Thanks, Paul!

    These names are placeholders until we figure out better name. I like the name "Petra" for Blorb but that's the only one out of the four.

    The reason for these opaque names are actually because of your post that started comparing GDNS official, canonical theory to the big model which uses some similar names for some things, which kinda was my fault with the original names. I wanted to "Pull a Ron" like Ron did with threefold and just define things the way I had interpreted them. But I think for the long term benefit of GDNS official, canonical theory, these four corners need other names and the entire GDNS official, canonical theory needs a new name too (because what's G, D, N and S stand for now?)
    Your point about toolboxes also existing in overlaps strikes me as complicated and inconvenient on the technique-listing front, but also true.
    Yeah, I think it'll help with clarity especially if I can sort of put the techniques in a diagram.
    I wonder if the clashes and overlaps you're seeing could help generate a starter list of techniques just for reference? If you put that in place, maybe the rest of us could help expand the lists.
    OK, I like this idea! This is just a start and then I can put them in diagrams and it'll help us come up with new names for the four corners. It's a first draft, some things might need to be deleted, moved, or added. Just to get us going.

    Game design techniques:
    Blorb
    • Tools to make random tables
    • Quantification (not necessarily slow-handling)
    Frotz
    • Comprehensive mechanics
    • Playtesting
    • Flexible mechanics that can work together in different ways
    • Encounter generators
    • "Overlord" rules
    • Character advancement (added 2016-06-13)
    Nitfol
    • Restrictive character/setting generation
    • Character change (added 2016-06-13)
    Gnusto
    • Compelling settings
    • Epic stories
    • Strong villains
    • Simple monster math (Numenera-style)
    • Hidden monster math
    • Plot generators
    • Character backstory (renamed and moved 2016-06-13)
    Play to find out
    • Randomness, chance
    • Easy to adjudicate, consistent mechanics
    • Impartial refeereing (added 2016-06-13)
    Stories are interesting
    • Intra-party-bonds/relationships
    Players interact with the DM's prep
    • Secrets to be uncovered (added 2016-06-13)
    • Other prep tools
    • Sources for maps
    • Easy rules for making NPCs


    DM/facilitator/group techniques:
    Blorb
    • Random tables
    • Prepping
    Frotz
    • Interesting tactics
    Nitfol
    • Bangs
    • Loaded questions
    • Unique character traits
    • Decisions with high diegetic costs
    Gnusto
    • Hidden rolls
    • False choices
    • Balanced combats
    • Curated experience
    • Selective fudging
    • Strong questgivers
    • Bones thrown at other "player types"
    Play to find out
    • Open rolls
    • Ruthlessness
    • Everway "Karma" (added 2016-06-13)
    • Everway "Fortune" (added 2016-06-13)
    Stories are interesting
    • Scenario setups
    • Everway "Drama" (added 2016-06-13)
    Players interact with the DM's prep
    • Other prep tools
    • Sources for maps
    • Maps
    • NPCs


    List ends
    I'm not sure how to parse the four points as defined by clash, as I see plenty of room for clash pretty near any given point. Like, yeah, I agree that some "Run a Sim" techniques are perfect for Transportation, but others will completely ruin it (e.g. in the case of a simulation based on slow-handling quantification). But perhaps such incompatibilities would be obvious enough to anyone who looked, and that wouldn't detract from the upside of having a toolbox to look in for suitable techniques.
    It's not obvious perhaps, but it's a start. BTW, slow-handling quantification is a great tool for VE, right? That boardgame feeling of seeing exactly how many torches it takes to reach the core of the dungeon.

    As far as transportation goes. I've spoken earlier at length about the different "emotional engagement" vs "sensory engagement". Blorb techniques help with either of those two, and both of those two are needed for good Transportation.
    Not all techniques are designed equal though. A technique can be bad, or not be the best thing for what it's meant to do, if there's a simpler alternative that does the same thing with about as good, or better, results, even though both techniques ostensibly would be in the same corner. Like, quantification is good for Transportation, because it makes the world believable, but bad if it is so slow and distracting that it makes you forget about the game world and just stare at the numbers. (For the record I removed most quantification from my blorb games using the spatiality taxonomy.)
  • edited June 2016
    That is a great list!

    Under "other prep" I'd add "secrets to be uncovered". For Blorb/Frotz I'd add "impartial refereeing". For Nitfol (and maybe Stories) I'd add "character backstory". For Frotz design I'd add "character improvement/advancement". For Nitfol I'd add "character change". Those are my first thoughts. Some of them can be productively applied to all categories (character backstory and change can add to even a prepped GM plot), but I'm listing what seem like obvious fits to me. What do you think? Feel free to slot 'em in or not as you see fit!
    Like, quantification is good for Transportation, because it makes the world believable, but bad if it is so slow and distracting that it makes you forget about the game world and just stare at the numbers. (For the record I removed most quantification from my blorb games using the spatiality taxonomy.)
    Agreed -- same here!
  • edited June 2016
    I agree with all of those and added them as soon as I got to my desk. Impartial refeering I want for both blorb and frotz but there is no blorb+frotz overlap in the official poster for the GDNS kumbaya of FRIENDSHIP so I added it to Nitfol too. A sign of a problem with the model, perhaps?
    Character backstory was already there under a different name, renamed.
    I also added the Everway Fortune, Drama, Karma.
    Character backstory and change can add to even a prepped GM plot
    Oh, I want to address this too. Some things, like "write down what you know about your character in some way" or "people sit around a table" can apply to all categories; I don't want to add them and maybe some are already in there and will need to be removed.

    For that specific example, though, one of two other things are going on.
    First of all, I'd argue that symbolic bones thrown at the other player types is a fundamental part of Gnusto. Put in a couple of kobolds to fight and a weird statue to talk to keep the players engaged as they follow along the plot.

    Second of all, you might be playing an overlap. Overlaps can use techniques from the toolboxes within it. Maybe you're playing "Stories are interesting" instead of Gnusto or Nitfol alone.

    Third. In the original post I put character backstory solidly in Gnusto. Nitfol to me is more about how the character is in play, even backgrounds created in play through flashback mechanics. But... isn't writing down "what has gone before", even if thoroughly, acceptable in all four modes? Both world building and character building. I'm contradicting myself here.
  • edited June 2016
    and I... already realized I messed up. For example, if you're using "Players interact with the DM's prep", are there no appropriate resolution methods? One or more of F, D or K is applicable to every game I've ever seen.

    So I think this is what's going on:
    "Players interact with the DM's prep" have access to all of Frotz, Gnusto and Blorb.
    Frotz (for example) have access to Everway "Karma" through "Play to find out".
    Therefore "Players interact with the DM's prep" have access to "Karma" and the other three methods too.

    Hold on, this looks circular, I'm in a bit of hurry now but the strict definition in my head isn't circular.
    The overlaps when engaged directly have access to all of their corner's techniques.
    The overlaps when referenced indirectly have access only to their specific, shared techniques.
    Done, loop closed. This is going to be made clearer in the diagram (somehow...)

    OK, good. But there was something else that struck me as weird. That there's no Blorb/Frotz w/o Nitfol. I guess I'm just a big ole' "Play to find out" lover and can't imagine giving up some Nitfol techniques, even though Blorb is nominally my favorite corner I guess it's more "Play to find out" I'm after.
  • My inclination would be to fill the techniques list with stuff that's highly associated with a given category -- either really important and at least fairly common or really common and at least fairly important -- and not worry about what other categories such techniques might also happen to fit into in a less foundational way.

    So, like, if character backstory is vital to Gnutso, and some degree of maybe awesome maybe not in other play styles, then we put it on the Gnutso list, and readers can always mine from multiple lists if they want.

    As for where to put a technique that is equally foundational to Gnutso and Nitfol and Stories Are Interesting, I don't know. I guess it depends on whether that's exactly what the overlap categories (e.g. Stories) are for, or whether you expect to fill those overlaps with techniques which are only important in the combo of multiple corners.
  • Another technique thought: I've noticed a rough correspondence between (a) large-scale resolution and conflict resolution and fortune in the middle and story-making, and between (b) minute resolution and task resolution and fortune at the end and simulation and virtual experience. Are any of those techniques foundational? There are certainly plenty of counter-examples to each, but I still feel like a list that omits them would be incomplete.

    Do you envision a niche anywhere for "techniques which are important for everything"?
  • I think the various iiee schemes that are out there are applicable to all four.
    I've definitely seen the same divisions that you have but I think it's a cultural side effect: willingness to throw away all frotzness in order to further ease of play and nitfolicity, which was the highest priority of the community that was consciously working with iiee. Obviously, very detailed mechanics are grist for the mill for good frotz design but it can come at a high cost. Frotz is related to the old "system mastery" idea, which has traditionally stuck to a particular iiee scheme, but I think good, clear, clean frotz games can be designed with other mechanics. The Burning games comes to mind, as does Fate. Both of which have frotz appeal.

  • Most games are written with a mix of play in mind (incoherence).

    So what are some games that I can guess are built with one type of play primarily in mind:
    Gnusto -- Theatrix, Fudge, The Window, Dread, Kult
    Blorb -- Labyrinth Lord...? Dark Dungeons? ACKS? Swords & Wizardry, Searchers of the Unknown (this especially since the characters are so simple and unfrotzy/unnitfoly), The Black Hack (also similar to SotU)
    Frotz -- D&D 4e, Torchbearer.... Rune?
    Nitfol -- Psychodrame, Hillfolk

    In general:

    Gnusto -- games written to with ease allow play to follow along one story
    Frotz -- games where system mastery is difficult and interesting
    Nitfol -- low-prep games with interesting and loaded characters
    Blorb -- higher-prep world-building sandbox games where "what happens happens" is more important than genre emulation

    What are some games that, deliberately or undeliberately, straddle the corners?
    GURPS -- based on a super blorby, almost unwieldy "physics" core with a quantumy and gnustic illusionist adventure design model
    Everway -- strong nitfoly characters with their own quests landed in a realm with One Big Thing To Fix a la gnusto
    Pathfinder -- frotzy "build" oriented challenge game play arranged in linear shared gnustic experiences, and the builds are based on a hypercodified, anti-MTP physics engine with blorby aspirations (one of the worst games ever? or best, depending on what you want)
    Burning Wheel -- all about frotzy system mastery but play is driven by nitfoly powerful characters in a lower-prep setting, a successful marriage between frotz & nitfol.
    AW -- all nitfol all the time but in a way that makes it look and feel as if it were a blorb game. Exploration and interaction and the outcomes "emulate" it being blorb, look like it being blorb but under the hood? No blorb!
    CoC and ToC -- gnustic "funnel" play towards Big Reveals that is punctuated by mechanical interactions that can add some blorby surprises
    Durance -- At a glance looks like textbook nitfol, but the planet generation system adds a strong blorby touch.
    Dungeon World -- As AW, but sometimes you use an old module and adherence to it adds significant blorbiness
    Fate -- Can be run all-nitfol but can also be used with significantly blorby prep.


    Some more one-corner game guesses but where I'm less sure:
    Nitfol -- Fiasco, Archipelago, Svart av Kval
    ???? -- WoD. WoD has fluctuated over the years, often staying firmly in one corner but later shifting completely over to another corner. Blorby "by night" books made way for gnustic chronicles and SAS-books and then switched back to "Damnation City" style blorb play.


    I'm not sure about any of these and can be convinced to move some of them over.
    But.
    If the explanation for why something really belongs in another corner is too clever, then it's probably not a straight forward case. Like "Toon is really sim because it simulates a cartoon, get it ;)" and the same for Feng Shui. Naw. Those two games try to tell a nitfoly or gnustic story, not be a blorby petri dish, and I guess both add significant frotzy elements, especially FS. They are not blorb, the definition of blorb specifically excludes this "genre emulation" aspect. This is part of the canonical and official definition of what blorb is.


    Also. Remember that a core tenet of gnusto is to throw the other playstyles some symbolic bones. It's like one of the gnusto participants Core Commandments. That's why we often see gnusto play using Fantasy AGE and GURPS and stuff like that. Players believe there are some meaningful mechanics, and those mechanics are some or even most of the time used to create some interesting outcomes and things happening within the gnustic "canyon", but the canyon is nevertheless leading forward.
  • Weirdly enough, the way that I ran my games for many many years don't fit into any of the corners. That's how dysfunctional I consider it now :/
    It had many of the hallmarks of gnusto play [no illusionary mechanics though, that was one tenet I refused]; the characters were often pregens, everything was made to fit in with my visions and my ideas and everything went like I thought it should go. It was awful.

    But I refused to see myself as gnusto because nothing was written down, it wasn't a railroad because there was no road, I just made up everything as we went a long! But... that made it in practice way less agential.

    I was (for a period before my head injuries) pretty good at just spouting out made up stories on the fly, long shaggy dog stories that just went on and on and "this happens, then this happens" etc. And... my RPG was similar to this. They were stories and the characters were in them but they weren't, the players weren't really affecting what was going on. They were there to portray my pregens according to my idea on how to portray the pregens. I dunno. It sucked. A lot of the things I independently invented "like ok you steal this and this from that and that person, why and what happens?", they have later been embraced as part of "loaded questions" type play. But for me they were really a tone police thing, I was forbidding the players from doing interesting things and I was forcing them to do other interesting things. So horrible.

    In my defense, remember, I grew up in the isolated country side, far from any RPG community, with only 90's games at my disposal and I discarded them as too rules heavy [I (correctly) identified them as gnusto games and thought... "then why are all these complicated rules here? The rules aren't being used"] and started down the path of my "dictorial freeforming", Everway, Fudge and SLUG taken to their extreme, without the bars that prevented them from becoming completely singularly-visioned.

    That's an explanation, not a compensation. It was awful! And I had a hard time getting players.

    Now, as I mentioned the other day, some completely orthogonal parts of our play was amazing; we were completely immersed with everything being said IC and we were always maintaining the mood, sustained for hours and hours. [I wasn't the only local GM that did this. We were goth kids and we took our playing Very Seriously.]
    AND my monsters and stories and ideas and pregens were pretty good. We were very happy with how some of the games turned out and I did have a few appreciative players.


    But. I'm so glad I got that "magic mirror" experience. Complete 180° on every opinion.
  • edited July 2016
    To get a glimpse for how I ran things, read the adventure "Some of my favorite things" [or something similar I can't remember the exact name] in the Weep collection by Atlas Games.
    I made up everything myself and when we ran that adventure the players though it absolutely was so much worse than my typical "Sandra encounters". And the walls were that much visible. It was so awful, we all thought, I was feeling so guilty for running it -- the only pre-made adventure we ran, everything else was my improvising.

    But. In retrospect. My own stuff wasn't that much different. Players are in an undefined vague void running into weird shit that I've made up, and talk to that weird shit, trying to stop the weird stuff from getting weirder or messier and/or learn from the weird stuff to themselves become weirder or messier. Edit: I used Gaiman's phrase "weird shit" but as Paul quoted it I saw that it was a bit too much so I edited it out. I love swearing but, in moderation!

    The problem was that the respones were also improvised and adapted to the approaches that the players took. This is central to the "magic mirror" story -- the DM wasn't influenced by whether we saw the mirror as a resource or a threat. It was just there.

    In my game if the players ran from a monster, I made it a scary chase by an uncaring beast

    If they talked to a monster, I made it a complicated and guilt-ridden being that they could convince or work with

    John Harper's story about his Talislanta campaign is also similar to how I ran it except he at least sometimes put in a little dice and randomness as a few drops of oracle, even if it's not full on gloracle.
  • edited July 2016
    Players are in an undefined vague void running into weird shit that I've made up, and talk to that weird shit, trying to stop the weird shit from getting weirder or shittier, and/or learn from the weird shit to themselves become weirder or shittier.

    The problem was that the respones were also improvised and adapted to the approaches that the players took. [...]
    For people who are proponents of the idea of "creative agenda" (I am one), this is precisely where the idea comes from:

    You're describing a game where the participants have no idea how to make their contributions meaningful.

    There is no compass here, not for the players, nor - really - for the GM. Everyone is floating with a great sense of uncertainty, and they can't judge which contributions will be beneficial and which will not.

    This makes it very difficult (though not impossible!) to have a functional, fun game. And, if the game IS fun, we have no idea how to recreate that fun.

    A game with some kind of creative focus, however, allows everyone some sense of "what the valid game moves are". Other games have this same issue, but on a smaller scale: for instance, I'm going to play soccer quite differently if I know we're playing competitively (when the ball goes out of bounds, I can go after it slowly, to conserve my strength) vs. playing just to get some exercise (might as well keep running!) vs. playing so you can teach me the basic skills (we might work together intentionally to recreate situations where I'm losing, to see if I can figure out how to get out of them).

    You'll note I used the lower case in the term "creative agenda", because people often disagree about where to draw classifications. But I believe that the idea itself is undeniable - there are games which share a creative drive and games which do not.

    On the Forge, games which had a creative agenda which was recognized by all the players (not necessarily overtly! It could be a tacit understanding) were called "coherent". Games that weren't were called "incoherent". This wasn't intended as a term of value or judgement (the terms come from "coherent light" vs. "incoherent light" - neither is "better" than the other, they just describe different properties), but many people took it that way (and the Model itself could be said to imply as much).

    People tend to disagree on this point. Some people play in an "incoherent" style and have fun, functional games. Heck, probably the majority of happy gamers do this! The Model certainly didn't exclude this possibility. Other people intentionally play in an "incoherent" style and even assert that it is a better way to play (for various reasons - more inclusivity, more flexibility, to better please all the participants, etc).

    I don't see a particular need to settle on particular classifications (although I do personally find the Forgite Creative Agendas useful much of the time), because I think that the creative agenda of a specific game/group will always override any general "category" it might fall into.

    For example, I've seen some people play D&D4E as a string of combat encounters. Within each encounter, the players try to win as hard as possible, and the DM does the same. Between encounters, however, the players are not trying to "win" anything, but rather willingly participate in the DM's plot, so they can get to the next planned encounter.

    Whether this is "coherent" or not is kind of an academic question, I think. The important part is that if you join the game and you try to "play along" during a fight ("I'm going to let myself get captured by the Orcs, because that sounds like what the DM wants!") or try to outsmart the DM during the interludes between encounters, you're going to risk ruining the game for everyone.

    My own pre-Forge games were somewhat like yours, Sandra. I had minimal mechanics going on, in a loose style which aimed at light simulation (generally of the "physics simulation" sort) and I would "craft" a story out of the players' input. However, I would also use "gloracle" techniques to resolve situations as much as possible, and then use that as creative input to inspire the next step of the story.

    It was functional, and the players enjoyed it a great deal. However, it was tremendously draining for me as the GM. Although it looked like I was simply acting as "referee", the absence of things like stated intent on the player side meant that, at some level, I was making up everything which happened in play. Very satisfying at times, as it gave me such a high level of creative control over the game.

    However, ultimately I felt overworked and unsupported. After all, since the players couldn't really know what the game's creative agenda WAS, they sometimes worked towards it and sometimes against it. I had to compensate for that every step of the way. More importantly, I yearned to share the creative input, to have people participate actively to make the game better. The players were intelligent, creative, and proactive, but the nature of the resolution system meant everything ultimately landed back on my shoulders. There were simply no "surprises" for me anymore, once I knew the players well and could predict what they would do in response to cues I gave them.

    This has interesting side effects, like the players "not caring" about various details. You know that thing where the GM delivers important information about the game's setting or current events, and the players sit through quietly, and then forget all the NPCs' names almost instantly? Well, why don't they care about the Duke's lineage? It's because those details are simply not relevant to the way they're playing the game - they cannot see how they tie to the game's creative agenda, and therefore there is no interest in paying attention to them or remembering them.

    For contrast, tell your players in the middle of a fight that there is a cauldron of burning oil in the middle of the room, and no one is going to skip over or forget THAT! It's immediately relevant. In the same way, no player who just created a character named Luke Skywalker is EVER going to forget who Darth Vader is. Your players might not remember the tavern keeper's name (because you are the only one who knows he's actually plot-relevant!) but they all definitely remember what a Tarrasque is (again, because it ties directly into the perceived creative agenda).

    [Note: This is a rhetorical "you", not intended to be aimed at anyone in particular.]
  • To clarify that yes, even though I want to distance myself from the big model (I think two of the four corners of the GDNS official, canonical theory are pretty similar to two of the big model's three corners, but the other two are very different from anything the big model has), I think it's the same basic thing here. Here are four ways people play the game; I wasn't anywhere near anyone of them, or at least I didn't realize I was, so it got all messy.

    And to my younger self and anyone now who reads this and go "no no no I don't WANT to prep it's too much work": there are tools! Encounter tables. It can be easy! Get a good module, B4 The Lost City or Lost Mines of Phandelver... or play a nitfol type game, then you can get away without prepping. Get invested in the characters and give your players real choices. It's much harder though. I've actually... never? seen it done well?
  • (Oh, it's definitely doable! I've seen it. Modules or prep really help, though.)
  • edited July 2016
    I surprised myself as I was writing it. That I hadn't really seen AW done really well. DW I've seen done well with modules, like I played in Stonehell using Dungeon World which was great
  • (Sorry? Not sure I'm following that.)
  • edited July 2016
    I've played AW three times and seen it played on YouTube a bunch of times
    Never really it being what I want out of RPG
    And, I didn't realize it until yesterday that I felt like that

    Edit: never mind, too OT
  • Actually, that seems *very* relevant to this thread!

    After all, AW and DW are fairly similar mechanically. However, something about those two games worked for you in one instance and not in the other.

    Is it just the presence of a prepped module, or something else? Would those two games fit in two different categories in your classification scheme, or not? If so, why?
  • It's just the presence of the prepped module.
  • I wouldn't be so sure! I think there are other important creative differences. After all, AW MCs prep some material, too, in the form of fronts, threats, and custom moves.

    Personally, I wouldn't want to use DW for a hardcore "challenge-based adventuring" kind of play - it doesn't give enough support for impartial GM calls, in my opinion.
  • Perhaps AW's strength will show up in a longer campaign. I've only played one shots of it and DW.
  • I just learned about Richard Bartle's categories of MUD players: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_taxonomy_of_player_types#Expanded_categories

    Wikipedia says "See also GNS Theory", so it must be relevant!
  • Perhaps AW's strength will show up in a longer campaign. I've only played one shots of it and DW.
    FWIW, in the MC playbook for AW, Vincent does write "I don’t figure it’s much of a game until 6 sessions", so I imagine it is very much not designed for one-shots. I've never actually played it, though, so I've no personal experience to relate :~)
  • Yeah, AW is not great for one-shots. And, specifically for the issue Sandra was discussing, it doesn't "hit the road running". Early play is more like collaborative group brainstorming, though often through a character lens. It's only once all the "toys" are on the table that the MC can act more like a referee, if that's what you're looking for.

    In a way, it's like you're creating the module together, during the first session or two, and with the MC filling in the gaps in prep. :)
  • edited April 2017
    Version 1.2 canonically and officially released! Changes include new names for the four corners, + removing the misconceptions about big model "how" vs "why" (thanks Simon -- now GDNS official, canonical theory can stand on its own legs!)

    Because getting on the same page about which techniques are kosher and which are iffy is SUPER IMPORTANT to us humans! It's the outside-in approach to finding common value ground!

    Now what is GDNS? It stands for Spike, Rails, Impro and Sandbox!

    In Rails, one or more of the participants is a super talented story writer in the attic and pre-writes a very interesting story that the group can then bring to life and experience in full color at the gaming table! This could be a GM writing "First the players are gonna do X, then they're gonna do Y, then they're gonna do Z" style notes before play, this could be a player writing ten pages of backstory for their character which is going to be recounted closely during play!

    In Impro, one or more of the participants is a hippie! They want to encounter choices that would be meaningful diegetically, such as "Should the hard-working cop abandon her family in order to protect them?". The most important life dream of a Impro hippie is that a very unexpected story is created during play that can then be retold to your hippie friends at the next con!

    In Spike, one or more of the participants is a power-hungry munchkin! They want to encounter choices that would be meaningful mechanically, such as "Should the hard-working cop equip a +1 one beastmaster sword or a x3 mod lightning round gun in order to best protect her family?". The most important life dream of a Spike munchkin is to test their own might! To face challenges and bravely stare them down with their lifelong journey of system mastery!

    In Sandbox, one or more of the participants is a curious individual! They want to examine the clockwork of the system, how will the little ants in the sandhill move around and what will happen when they collide! The most important life dream of a curious and imaginative Sandbox daydreamer is to see their doll's house come to life and see the dolls do What They Would've Done Really. If they were alive. But with spaceships.

    Wait, there's more!
    These four corners of the GDNS quartet may sound like mortal enemies. But that's not the case, they are the best of friends!
    Here is the official poster for the GDNS kumbaya of FRIENDSHIP:
    image

    But not everything is a paradise in the GDNS land!
    Here is the official diagram of the official GDNS Hatred Parade of Eternal Enmity:

    image

    Any questions?
  • edited April 2017
    Maybe it should be canoncially renamed officially to RISS official, canonical theory now that the four corners have more useful names to you non-enchanter-veterans out there. The new names risk falling into previous misconceptions about the styles, but this time I'm more ready for it.
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